Best Rebuttal of the “Minimal Facts” Argument for the Resurrection

Excerpt from a fantastic article by Matthew Ferguson, a PhD student in Classics, which in my opinion completely demolishes Gary Habermas’ and William Lane Craig’s Minimal Facts Apologetic Argument for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus:

[William Lane] Craig claims that there are “four facts” about Jesus’ resurrection (taken from his website here):

  1. After his crucifixion Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb.
  2. On the Sunday after the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.
  3. On different occasions and under various circumstances different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.
  4. The original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary.

Craig uses the term “facts,” in order to treat these premises as non-negotiable. The reality, however, is that his first two facts are not even accepted by many mainstream scholars. Scholars like Bart Ehrman and John Dominic Crossan, for example, doubt the historicity of Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. For Ehrman’s case against the historicity of Joseph’s tomb, you can consult his blog series “Did the Romans Allow Decent Burials?.” Likewise, Ehrman also doubts the discovery of the empty tomb by women, which he discusses in his article “The Women and the Empty Tomb.”

Furthermore, even apologists Habermas and Licona (The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, pgs. 69-70) acknowledge that the discovery of an empty tomb is not a “fact” accepted by all scholars, so that Craig’s first two premises cannot be treated as non-negotiable (to see my case against Habermas and Licona’s minimal facts, which are focused more on “facts” derived from Paul’s Epistles rather than the Gospels, see my discussion in footnote 5).

I will explain why many scholars doubt Craig’s first two facts, and then address how the second two can easily be explained through purely naturally explanations.

To read Ferguson’s article in it’s entirety, click on the link below:


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